Michelle Obama delivered an emotional and prescriptive final speech as first lady of the United States on Thursday at the 2017 School Counselor of the Year event saying, "Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life and I hope I made you proud."
During her remarks at the White House, the first African-American first lady, along with multiple guests, were visibly moved to tears as she offered a passionate defense of diversity in American society, urging young people to fight for the country they want to live in and to choose "hope" in the face of "fear"
"Don't ever let anyone make you feel like you don't matter, or like you don't have a place in our American story — you do," Obama said. "I want our young people to know that this country belongs to you — to all of you, from every background and walk of life."
"So don't be afraid. You hear me, young people? Don't be afraid. Be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful. Be empowered. Empower yourself with a good education. Then get out there and use that education to build a country worthy of you boundless promise. Lead by example with hope; never fear."
Throughout the speech Obama made a few subtle jabs potentially directed at President-elect Donald Trump, at one point she urged listeners that diversity of color and religion in the U.S. "is not a threat to who we are."
"Our glorious diversity of faiths, colors and creeds is not a threat to who we are — it makes us who we are," said Obama.
"Being your first lady has been the greatest honor of my life."
Obama often harkened back to the idea of hope that her husband championed during his two presidential campaigns, making a point to contrast hope with fear saying, "When you are struggling and you think about giving up, I want you to remember something me and my husband talked about: the power of hope."
"It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope to rise above the power of fear."
"Our hope is that if we work hard enough," said Obama, "when people see us for who we truly are, maybe, just maybe, they too will be inspired to rise to their best possible selves."
The first lady's remarks came during an event aimed at honoring the 2017 School Counselor of the Year, a ceremony Obama herself initiated in 2015 which looks to highlight high school counselors who have demonstrated leadership skills as a part of her "Reach Higher" program to promote higher education.
The first lady got choked up while delivering her "final message" for young people.
"I want our young people to know that they matter, that they belong," Obama continued, "Don't be afraid, be focused. Be determined. Be hopeful, be empowered."
Obama stressed the importance of young Americans to educate themselves and for opportunities to be made available for the younger generation to rise above their circumstances to achieve the "American dream."